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Archive for June, 2008

‘Times of Trouble’ by Lorraine Ezel

“The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.” Psalm 9:9

“In times of trouble.” The word “times” is an indication that trouble is not a “one time thing”. As we go through the journey of life, we will face many “times” of trouble. Sometimes trouble will come back to back with no time to even catch your breath before the next one comes- as was the case with Job. Then at other times it seems as though trouble takes a break and leaves us alone for a while, but before we know it— it’s back.

Trouble also comes in many forms and invades many different areas of our lives. It can attack us in our health, our finances, our personal relationships and in our relationship with God. They also come in different sizes. They can be as small as the little foxes or as big as a giant. The Bible says that “man is born to trouble and his days are full of them”. If I stopped here with that statement it would seem that life was hopeless, we could never expect anything but trouble- no happiness, no joy, no peace, just trouble, trouble, trouble. But thank God we don’t have to stop there. When we have “times” of trouble there is hope, His name is Jesus!

Jesus sticks with us in times of trouble- He does not run out on us, He does not leave us to handle it by ourselves, He does not forsake us. In times of trouble He is our refuge, our hiding place, our security, our safety. When facing times of trouble we don’t face them alone- He leads, guides and directs us so that we can safely navigate through them to the other side.

Are you facing one of those “times” of trouble this morning? There is hope and help for you. Look to Jesus. He is big enough to handle whatever trouble comes your way and however many times it comes.

Have a great day. Each time that trouble comes, He will always be our refuge.

Excerpted from Coffee Break by: Lorraine Ezell

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Summer Kids Camp is just around the corner.

We at Boshii Dar (God’s Gift) Church are already mapping out plans for the summer camp for the children in Mine 12/18, where we do our yearly kids camp for the underprivileged children who live in one of the most neglected parts of Donetsk City, Ukraine.

Since we’ve been organizing the summer kids camp here in Mine 12/18 for a couple of years now, we’ve come to get to know more the children as they grow. They keep coming back to this yearly event; it’s something that they look forward to every summer.

Most of the children, who went to past summer camps, are now in their teens. Despite this, they still come every summer to take part in the camp. We’ve been thinking of ways on how to organize a camp for these teens, but it does take some funds to make these plans into reality.

Once again, we ask for your prayer and financial support to enable us to organize the summer camp in August for both kids and teens of Mine 12/18. We need to raise around $3,000 to cover all the expenses.

The week-long summer camp is one of our church’s major events. It allows us not only to bless camp participants through fun summer camp activities but to also to meet with their parents and minister to them. Almost always, the kids enjoy the love and attention we give to them during the camp as well as the fun activities. Aside from this, we get the participants to plug into our church’s ministries for young people. With this setup, we are able to continually share with them the Word of God.

If you wish to take part in this endeavor, please don’t hesitate to contact me. If you are in the US, you may contact EMERGE Network (c/o chuck@quinley.com) or MEANS USA (meansusa@hotmail.com) and let them know of your desire to be part of the Summer Kids Camp here in Ukraine.

Your assistance will be very much appreciated.

Have a blessed weekend!

(Note: To view my Flickr photos of last year’s Summer Kids Camp here.)

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For those who bumped into this blog just recently, I just want to let you know that I do have a photo blog called Behind the Lens. The URL is: http://saritabehindthelens.blogspot.com.This is where I mainly post my photo essays.

I love taking pictures. I always have my digital camera with me wherever I go.So if you have time to spare, do visit my photo blog on Blogger.

Meanwhile, I regularly upload tons of photos on my Flickr Pro site here.

See you there!

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Combating with Self-Discipline

Have you experienced combating with self-discipline? I have, many times and I say it is not an easy task at all!

There are times that I succumbed to my flesh and do what it wants but there are times that I successfully denied myself of its desires to do what it wants, and that took lots of courage and working myself out to the point of literal exhaustion (emotionally, physically and spiritually).

Learning different languages is not easy task and it requires lots of self-discipline, especially when you are doing a self-study of it. I have to force and discipline myself to do a language study at least an hour everyday for the past few years. But there are times that my flesh just don’t want to spend that hour in studying instead spending that hour infront of computer and blogging on the net! I have to literally drag myself out infront of my pc and make myself get my language books and workbooks and painstakingly make myself focus on language study.

For those of you that is studying languages, I am sure you can relate with me on this. And its not just studying languages that needs self-discipline. It’s just one of many things that I need to do and make myself discipline to do so everyday.

Everyday we combat the need to stay disciplined and keep our focus to the things that are priorities versus important. First things first though, we have to know which are priorities and which are important, as those two are not the same. Learning and knowing the difference will help us a lot in tackling the issues that are infront of us everyday.

I am sure each one of us has different issues that we need to combat with self-discipline everyday. In my experience, self-discipline will not be instilled in our lives if we don’t take hold of our daily activities and control our desires to be laxed in self-discipline. Knowing priorities from important will help us a lot in tackling everyday issues. We have a choice to make a better and focused life if we have self-discipline, but to do so, we have to combat self-discipline daily and purposely.

Having a discipline life makes life easier to deal with, as we are focus and we know the difference of priorities from important. This save us lots of confusion, headaches, stress, etc. Saying “NO” is an important factor in combating self-discipline. Learning to say “NO” can simplify our lives.

Question:

Have you learned to differentiate your priorities from important issues in your life?

Action:

Take sometime today and get a pen and a notebook and list down the issues or concerns that you have. Make two columns and write down on each column which you think or feel are your priorities and which are important.

Then make sure to stick with your list and discipline yourself to work on them accordingly.

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That’s me in Helsinki, Finland.

I had an opportunity to take a break from work for a month, and I’m thankful to the Lord and to the people He used for making this possible.

Before I embarked on my trip, I was trying to remember the last time I pampered myself on my birthday. It turned out that I hadn’t done so for a really long time. And so, I devised a plan to celebrate my birthday this year (April 12) visiting places I had always wanted to visit. I started saving for it long before my actual birthday, knowing that it would be costly.

But I didn’t get to go until the last week of April because there were some things I needed to attend to. So I said to myself that the implementation of the plan had to wait. I was actually already planning to cancel my trip as I didn’t have my visa at that time — note: it took a while before it got released — and I didn’t have enough funds for international travel. But it seemed that God had other plans for me.

A couple of weeks before the planned departure, I got my visa and my tickets as well! God is truly faithful to His children!

God provided me with everything I needed before and during my break — from visa to plane tickets to funds to travel. I thank the wonderful friends whom God used to make my birthday trip a special one.

I was able to visit Ireland and Finland as a personal birthday treat. Everything went well, and everything was provided for in ways that only God knows how. On top of this, I was able to meet with my friends in the UK. The visit was short yet sweet.

During my break, I also did a bit of work in Stockholm. I was able to collect and pack up several boxes of humanitarian aids for Ukraine, courtesy of the Filipino Christian group in Immanuel Church. The boxes were all ready for posting before I left Stockholm. That was another big blessing during my break.

God truly wants to pamper and reward us in His own way and perfect time. He is indeed a Father who loves and provides for His children!

TRAVEL PHOTO INDEX

Check out my travel photo albums (via Flickr), categorized properly by country:

Ireland
Finland
Sweden
UK

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(Note: The following article was written by Sarah Moore, an editorial intern at RELEVANT Media Group. Source: Relevant Magazine)

With Father’s Day right around the corner (that’s right, don’t forget to drop that card in the Outgoing Mail slot sometime this week), we decided to tackle one of the prevailing issues of our generation: fatherlessness. Whether it’s a father who’s physically absent, or one who is emotionally distant or hurtful, the lack of a father has left a noticeable mark on our society. RELEVANT talks to Rick Johnson, author of Better Dads, Stronger Sons and founder of Better Dads, a fathering skills program designed to equip men to be more engaged in the lives of their children, about the impact of fatherlessness and what the Church can do about it.

Do you think fatherlessness is a big problem in our society?

As a culture, we tend to think the physical absence is the only form of fatherlessness, but a father can be emotionally distant, uninvolved in their children’s lives, workaholics, abusive or addictive. I believe fatherlessness is a huge problem in our culture. In fact, I believe every problem our culture has can be directly or indirectly traced to fatherlessness in one form or another. Kids from fatherless homes are five times more likely to be poor, and 10 times more likely to be extremely poor. Kids from fatherless homes are twice as likely to be high-school dropouts, girls are three times more likely to be unwed teenage mothers, 90 percent of runaways come from fatherless homes, and three out of four teen suicides come from fatherless environments. About 70 percent of men in prison come from fatherless homes. I speak a lot on the prisons, and when I talk to men, I survey them. When I ask them not only if they came from a home without a dad at all but if they had a poor role model for a father figure, it bumps that number up to about 90 percent. If you look at just that—the consequences, devastation and destruction that men in prison have caused to our culture and families—that’s pretty significant.

Why has fatherlessness become so prevalent today? In your experience, what are some of the major reasons or symptoms?

One of the reasons I think has to do with our culture’s mentality in general. Our culture now has more of an instant gratification kind of mentality. When I talk to young people, they’re frankly a little bit hopeless that marriage can last for a long time. It’s because they’ve experienced growing up in a culture of divorce. Why we’re seeing more of it now is because clearly, the role models we have growing up are things that we tend to emulate. When people have been brought up in a broken home, or a fatherless environment, boys tend to model that behavior, sometimes unconsciously. A lot of men vow to never leave their wife or children, yet because they’ve kind of been programmed that way, they’re almost helpless to be able to stop a chain of events that leads to that kind of conclusion.

The same with young women. For a variety of reasons, they tend to make choices where they end up in a situation where they’re either pregnant and not married or in a broken relationship. Just having had that model, we tend to imitate that. We see generational cycles. I know families where the great-grandmother was a single mom, the grandmother was a single mom, the mom was a single mom and now the daughter is a single mom. Those generational cycles are hard to break sometimes, especially if we don’t recognize that it’s contributing to the problem.

How has this affected the 18- to 34-year-old age bracket? What are some characteristics that define this generation that stem from father issues?
I think there are some specific things that affect the younger, up-and-coming generation, because a lot of them have been raised in environments without a father. When I talk to young men, I feel a real eagerness and need. They want to be good dads and good husbands, but haven’t had that model for them. A lot of them grow up saying, “I’m a dad—now what do I do? I know what I don’t want to do, but an older man has never shown me what I’m supposed to do—what my role as a man, a father and a husband is.” There’s a lot of confusion, and I think a lot of times, especially in males, it manifests itself in anger. I think there’s a lot of angry young men out there, and it’s not because they’re necessarily angry as much as they are afraid. Males typically are reluctant to do the things we possibly are going to fail at, because it’s humiliating to fail. Either we leave, rather than face potential failure, or we become angry to cover that humiliating feeling of failure or fear.

For females, I think there are certain things that manifest themselves in the younger generation as well. I think the way a lot of young women view themselves can be directly related to how they perceived [the way] their father viewed them. If they had a loving father, they tend to feel good about themselves, are more confident and have more self-esteem. If they didn’t have a man growing up, they tend to not have that self-esteem and that kind of self-assessment that they’re worthy and valuable. The common theme of women and girls who did not have a father is an inability to trust a man. It’s a leap of faith for them, because a permanent relationship with a man is kind of theoretical. These women tend to test men who are in their lives by starting fights, finding flaws, expecting to be abandoned—things like that that are pretty destructive to relationships to begin with. We all have cravings for affection in our lives, and I think the women who didn’t have that in a father have a void in their lives. They search for that, not having experienced healthy, masculine affection. Sometimes they’re willing to replace that need in some destructive ways, like confusing sex for love.

How do you think it affects people spiritually? Do you think there is a correlation between the way they view their father and the way they view God?

Studies have proved that people’s perceptions of their earthly father is how they perceive God. There’s a lot of confusion, anger and maybe even turning away from God because of what’s been modeled by their earthly father. The other day my wife and I were driving in the car, and we were listening to Angela Thomas [on the radio]; she wrote My Single Mom Life. She was talking about how her husband left her with four kids. It was really tough, as you can imagine. She was exhausted and was praying to God that she just couldn’t go on. She heard God talking to her, asking her what she could do, encouraging her like a father would do. He called her His sweet baby girl, and my wife teared up, and I asked her what was wrong. She said, “I grew up without a father. I can’t even imagine a heavenly father calling me [that].” I never even thought about that, but she was right. Because she didn’t have an example of that growing up, it was hard for her to believe that there’s a loving, heavenly father that would have that kind of unconditional love for her, because she had never experienced it.

What are some short-term and long-term steps we could take, as a Church, to combat the trend?
There are so many opportunities for the Church to reach out to the hurting community out there. One of the things we do a lot of work with is on single moms raising boys. We have mentoring programs for fatherless boys, and we pair them up with college-aged men to hang out with. We have camps for single moms and their families, where they come out and we just serve and honor the single moms while teaching and letting the kids play with men so they can get a healthy example of what healthy masculinity looks like, for both boys and girls. These are great, nonthreatening opportunities for the Church to make a difference as I believe God would have us do as Christians, particularly to reach out to the widows and orphans in our community. My frustration is that I see very few churches who are willing to do that. In fairness, I think the Church is recognizing the problem of fatherlessness, but I think they’re a little overwhelmed by the whole thing and tend to be paralyzed and not do anything. There are a couple of churches that are doing some significant things to reach out to the fatherless community, and I think they’re going to make a huge difference in the world. I think churches could very easily host and encourage ministries like ours that have nonthreatening outreaches to the community that introduce biblical principles in a nonthreatening way, while getting into areas of the community that would never even set foot in a church. Because we’re reaching out and giving them something that they need without any expectations in return, they are going to be much more open to hearing the good news of the Gospel than they might normally.

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